There are few who will argue that 2012 was uncommonly rich in terms of its cinematic offerings. There were many films that elicited in me a deep abiding respect (Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln). Many that left me giddily entertained (The Dark Knight Rises, Looper, Premium Rush). And several that informed me about things I was completely unaware of (Jiro Dreams Of Sushi, Reportero, La Camioneta). But as in prior years, the movies that made it on my year-end Best Films list were those that, in a small way or large, flipped something within my emotional circuitry:
1. Life Of Pi
2. The Impossible
San Diego Film Critics Society named it the best film of the year), Argo is a telling of the unbelievable-if-it-weren’t-true CIA plans in the seventies to rescue American consulate workers out of Iran at a time of considerable anti-American sentiments in the country. It is both a nail-biting political thriller and a fond and humorous send-up of Hollywood at a time when it existed at its flashiest. I am a tremendous fan of the film, and can comment on much I admire about it. Let me stick to these: First, I am glad it has finally granted Ben Affleck accreditation as a top-tier American director. Second, more established directors could learn from this film about economy in story-telling; there isn’t a wasted shot in this crisply crafted movie (Tom Hooper, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino take note). Finally, where many filmmakers, even accomplished ones fumble with how a movie is wrapped up, notice the deftness of touch to the last few scenes of Argo, that manage to be both wistful and heartening.
4. Cloud Atlas
5. Your Sister’s Sister
7. The Sessions
8. English Vinglish
9. Searching For Sugar Man
10. The Grey
A testament to the high quality of films released in 2012 is that the following additional films (listed alphabetically) could have easily made it on this list: Anna Karenina, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Friends With Kids, How To Survive A Plague, Killer Joe, The Perks of Being A WallFlower, Silver Linings Playbook and Zero Dark Thirty.
Other quality films from the year that I cannot allow to go unmentioned include Ferrari Ki Sawaari, Jeff Who Lives At Home, The Kid With A Bike, Looper, Moonrise Kingdom, People Like Us, Promised Land and Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World.